Ryan Pace, John Fox Open Up On 'Tremendous' and 'Revealing' Senior Bowl Experience

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Ryan Pace, John Fox Open Up On ‘Tremendous’ and ‘Revealing’ Senior Bowl Experience

Chicago Bears

Players participating in Senior Bowl activities had important interactions with Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox, but those communications weren’t the only thing Pace had an eye on last week.

“How a guy treats your third trainer can be a little revealing, too,” Pace explained in his meeting with the gathered media in Mobile, Ala. “Instead of just how they’re talking to me or how they’re talking to coach Fox.”

That bit of attention to detail seems to sum up what the last week was like for the Bears. A week that Pace and Fox described as tremendous and revealing. It’s not as if there are many positives that come with a 3-13 season in which the head coach is retained, but the Bears seem set on making the most of their misfortunes.

For starters, they made good on their week at the Senior Bowl, which allowed them to scout, meet, and interview the kinds of prospects the team needs to add in the upcoming draft. While the class of prospects for the Bears’ top need (I think it’s safe to say quarterback here) isn’t deep, the Senior Bowl provided evidence there is quality and quantity at other positions.

Fox, who in any other year would be scouting the Senior Bowl from the stands with the rest of the NFL’s coaches and executives, seemed to truly make the most of his visit.

“I’d rather coach it than come to it. It was a great experience, just being in the meeting rooms, being around the guys, getting to know them,” Fox told Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com to wrap up Senior Bowl week. “It gives you tremendous insight.”

Fox compared Senior Bowl week to the first week of training camp. It is a sensible comparison when considering the getting-to-know-you process the players and coaches went through, while simultaneously implementing playbooks – all the while, the players representing the North and South teams were treating the week like an important job interview. Judging by the comments made by Fox and GM Ryan Pace, the Senior Bowl has more layers to it than I had previously perceived. Hopefully, the duo capitalized on this particular opportunity because, ideally, this was the last time Fox is eligible to coach the Senior Bowl.

As important as it was for Fox and his staff to get a good look at the players on the field and a feel for who will be coachable and productive on the gridiron, it is arguably more important for the Bears’ general manager to take it all in with a big picture point of view and (eventually) draft the right pieces. Pace said he and the staff knew the hands-on experience of this particular Senior Bowl would have its benefits, but really didn’t get a full grasp of that until diving in.

“[B]eing here full-fledged has been huge,” Pace said. “Being in the meetings, not just with our coaches but all our scouts, has been really good. Our coaches have done a good job of kind of creating an environment where we’re getting the players to talk more. So we’re really getting a good feel for their football intelligence.”

“Football intelligence” was a buzzword for Pace in his meeting with the media (which you can view here) as he repeated the term five times in a three-minute video.

Coaches interacting with players? They’re judging their football intelligence. Front office members meeting players seeking confirmation of preconceived feelings? That’s just another way to get a better grasp of their football intelligence. Not sure if the grade matches the player? Just do some more digging for football intelligence to confirm whether or not he is football intelligent. The biggest benefit of interacting with players? Getting a chance to feel their football intelligence the more they talk.

Pace says things like football intelligence (see, now am using it as a buzzword), being a good teammate, and love of the game will reveal themselves over the course of the week. And it appears they did.

The Senior Bowl didn’t just provide valuable scouting and evaluation time for Fox and Pace, but for assistant coaches, trainers, equipment managers and other staff employees.

When asked if he has seen a benefit of having the coaching staff there, Pace responded with conviction.

“A hundred percent. There [are] guys right away we’re talking about that we’re all on the same page with, and not only what they’re doing on the field but what they’re doing behind the scenes.”

In an interesting twist, however, just a few days after the Senior Bowl, the Bears were in the market for a new wide receivers coach, as Curtis Johnson walked away on Monday night.

At least the other new coaches who were hired before the Senior Bowl- offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn, running backs coach Curtis Modkins, and assistant defensive backs coach Roy Anderson – were able to get acquainted with their new co-workers.

In the end, the access during the Senior Bowl allowed Fox and Pace to get a really good look at five quarterbacks who threw passes in the game, six players who came up with turnovers, seven running backs who had multiple carries, and 20 players who hauled in receptions.

It’s one thing for Senior Bowl week to be “tremendous” and “revealing” – it’s another thing for it to have been productive. Only time will tell if that turns out to be the case.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.